Neighborhoods Take on Big Library

Proponents of big government love to talk about communities working together to solve problems. They call it “cooperation” and “togetherness.” Socialists like Bernie Sanders declare that we need to share everything. Share the wealth, share our prosperity, share, share, share. So why is it that whenever people actually come together to share things voluntarily, big government progressives can’t wait to get in the way?

In Washington, DC, where I live, every couple of blocks you can find what looks like a little birdhouse filled with books. These are sharing libraries, put there by the community. The idea is simple: take a book for free, as long as you leave one in its place. That’s it.

Whereas public libraries are funded by involuntary taxation, and refuse to lend you a book unless you fill out forms and provide them with proof of residence, (looking at you, Southeast Neighborhood Library. Nothing is forgiven, including that time you wouldn’t let me read that Salman Rushdie biography) sharing libraries require no such bureaucracy and operate on the honor system.

But wait a minute, isn’t Washington, DC filled with liars, thieves, and cheats? It sure is, and yet whenever I walk by a sharing library, they are always well-stocked and fully functional. No one steals from them. No one vandalizes them. It turns out people are basically pretty decent when they are left to peacefully interact.

Unfortunately, not everybody is happy with this arrangement. The same government bureaucrats who demand fake charity and cooperation at the point of a gun reject it utterly when it’s done out of basic human decency. In Kansas, as well as in other scattered locations around the country, local officials have been demanding that sharing libraries like these be torn down, or else their owners may face steep fines. The reason? They allegedly violate building codes, with the library in Kansas being described as an “illegal detached structure.”

This is the mindlessness of bureaucracy. These structures are small, usually not much bigger than a mailbox. They pose no safety threat to anybody, and there is no rational reason to forbid them. Of course, it’s impossible to know the motives of the local regulators. Maybe they are just small-minded drones who enforce laws that make no. Maybe they are irked by the fact that private individuals are usurping a function typically reserved for local government.

Personally, I suspect that there is a deep, almost subconscious bias against people who display independence and self-reliance. The big government mindset is a paternalistic one. If government exists to protect you, you must need protecting, or else government becomes redundant. Any demonstration by citizens that they can solve problems on their own undermines the rationale for government, and threatens both the jobs and the self-worth of the petty power mongers who hold government office.

This election season, you will continue to hear about how important it is that we work together and share what we have. Just bear in mind that when politicians say “together” they mean taxes and when they say “sharing” they mean mandates. Meanwhile, those of us who truly do believe in cooperation continue to fight against a “compassionate” government trying desperately to stop us.

This article originally appeared on Conservative Review.

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Free the People publishes opinion-based articles from contributing writers. The opinions and ideas expressed do not always reflect the opinions and ideas that Free the People endorses. We believe in free speech, and in providing a platform for open dialog. Feel free to leave a comment!

Logan Albright

Logan Albright is the Head Writer and Sound Engineer at Free the People. He is the author of Conform or Be Cast Out: The (Literal) Demonization of Nonconformists and Our Servants, Our Masters: How Control Masquerades as Assistance.

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